'Animal rights campaigners were saying "I know where he lives"': Former Premier League referee ...

Former Premier League umpire Bobby Madley has opened up on the ... in the Football League next season after agreeing to attend a discrimination ...
2020-02-20 09:51:03
'Animal rights campaigners were saying "I know where he lives"': Former Premier League referee ...

Published: 08:41 GMT, 20 February 2020 | Updated: 09:13 GMT, 20 February 2020

Former referee Bobby Madley has opened up on the torment he endured after a bizarre rumour caught fire on social media and spiralled out of control.

Madley was well known on the referee circuit of England's top flight division, often taking charge of some of the Premier League's biggest fixtures until his surprise retirement in August 2018 aged just 32.

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The Wakefield-born referee discovered the full powers of social media, after individuals started to make up reasons as to why he had disappeared from the game.

Following his exit from Premier League football, Bobby Madley's life quickly took a turn

Madley endured months of torment after a malicious fake rumour caught like wildfire

'I'm a Huddersfield fan, Huddersfield being the Terriers, and I think it was a Leeds fan who put out a comment that I was a "dog botherer". Then it just snowballed online,' Madley said during a recent interview with .

'People were putting up pictures, quite inventive stuff, and some of them were funny. But then people started tagging in the police and the RSPCA and it started to get out of hand. 

'All of a sudden, it was "trending" number nine worldwide. Suddenly, people were saying they had seen a video and that I should be arrested. 

'Then, there were animal rights campaigners saying, "I know where he lives". I ended up needing police protection, all from a nonsense rumour.'

Madley announced his retirement in August 2018, aged just 32, but it did not seem clear why

Behind the scenes, Madley was axed from his job after mocking a disabled person in a video

Madley's sacking originated from a private video he sent when attending a parent and child race at his children's school.

He recorded a six- second Snapchat clip of someone with a walking impairment passing his car.

He captioned the clip ‘f**k me I have a chance of winning the parents race this year,’ which was later passed on to his employers by an unnamed person following an argument.

Madley's quiet exit from football served simply to stoke the flames of the fire, after PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Board) chief Mike Riley dismissed him from his post, but a subsequent statement only added confusion.

The PGMOL insisted Madley ‘decided to relocate due to a change in his personal circumstances.’ 

In the aftermath of the speculation breaking out online and being widely circulated, Madley admitted his mental health took a huge hit as a result.

'It got as low as it could,' Madley added. 'I was hiding something inside. You know you’re having a tough time but you’re smiling with people and telling yourself you must be all right. 

'Then the moment the lights go out at night, your head comes alive. I’d be sitting up at three in the morning, in tears, thinking about everything, wondering what I could have done differently.

'I’d find myself going on Twitter to look through every post that was about me. I was searching for that one positive line, just one person to say, "Leave him alone, he’s a really nice guy" or "He doesn’t deserve this". 

'I was tormenting myself and, of course, what you get on Twitter are people criticising you, and worse.'

A statement from the PGMOL did not make it clear why Madley would be stepping away

As reported by Sportsmail,  next season after agreeing to attend a discrimination workshop.

Madley's sacking originated from a private video he sent when attending a parent and child race at his children's school.

He recorded a six-second Snapchat clip of someone with a walking impairment passing his car.

He captioned the clip ‘f**k me I have a chance of winning the parents race this year,’ which was later passed on to his employers by an unnamed person following an argument.

Upon his return Madley will join the national list of referees from August, taking charge of League One and League Two matches. He will spend the rest of this season officiating non-League games.

Madley, pictured with Pep Guardiola, trawled social media as his mental health plummeted

The 34-year-old will return to referee in the Football League after a discrimination workshop

After agreeing to participate in a discrimination workshop, Madley said: ‘I’ve been away from the Premier League for what will be two years come the new season, so a return to that level was never a possibility. 

'With the introduction of VAR and the many hours of training missed, it would not have been reasonable to expect that.

‘Like any referee, I have the desire to perform at my best and to achieve the best I can. I still have dreams that I thought were dead but, for me, they are now very much alive.

'I’m sorry that my actions fell way below the professional standard expected of me — but having the chance to redeem myself is an opportunity, journey and challenge that I am looking forward to taking.’

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